Being solidly labelled with the tag ‘Doom’ in my opinion does Avatarium no favours at all – for me the band is a complex and compelling mix of styles and real substance that defies and denies definition: they are also probably my favourite band of the decade so far, never failing to produce.
This their third album continues that rich vein of form that began with their debut in 2013 and was surpassed by the wonderful ‘Girl in the Raven Mask’ two yeas later. ‘Hurricanes and Haloes’ is an impressive and heady mix of “Beauty and darkness, heavy guitars and fragile ballads, vintage blues rock and modern doom” and for once a bio sums it up beautifully. This is powerful music, beguiling, fragile and delicate at times, and at the same time strong, far reaching and intricate.
Take the power of the wonderful opening track ‘Into the Fire – Into the Storm’ which takes your breath away with heavy guitars and soulful vocals, then contrast that with the 60’s-dipped searching of ‘The Starless Sleep’ or the hypnotic ‘Road to Jerusalem’ and you’ve only just scratched the surface.
Sure there are elements of Sabbath, but there’s so much warmth and power in Jennie-Ann Smith’s voice that she can sound like a female Dio at times, like on ‘The Sky at the Bottom of the Sea’, and Ann Wilson at others. When you add that to the wonderful and wide ranging compositions of Leif Edling you have a heady mix of decades and styles that have just as much old school hard rock as they do vintage Metal. All of it though, all of it, is done with real passion and soul.
Take a few plays to let it sink in and this is an album you’ll treasure: moments like the heart-wrenching ballad ‘When Breath Turns to Air’ and the other end of the spectrum the forceful ‘A Kiss From the End of the World’ open up landscapes to explore.
This is a wonderful album and summed up nicely by guitarist Marcus Jidell:
“A big and fat sound is what we like and we do whatever it takes to get there! AVATARIUM is about pushing boundaries and exploring new grounds. Our focus is not on technical aspects but on landscapes and colours. Diverse emotions, anxieties, defenses and human conditions all find their place in our music. We are aiming to find the human touch, to keep it simple, allow mistakes but also to make it glorious, shining and greater than our own selves.”